Welcome to the April edition of the AdviserPlus newsletter.
In this month’s newsletter we are looking at the celebration of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. We will also explore some recent case law, looking at how a Provision, Criterion or Practice (PCP) was considered in a dismissal case where the employee had a disability that impacted their timekeeping in the ruling in the Bryce v Sentry Consulting Limited case. Finally, there are some dates in April that may be interesting and beneficial for businesses to explore.
The celebration of Eid al-Fitr
In the Islamic calendar, there are two days out of the year dedicated to a celebration called Eid. Eid al-Fitr occurs at the end of the month of Ramadan each year, and Eid al-Adha occurs on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic year.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan, a period of month-long fasting for Muslims around the world and it is the biggest celebration of the year. The name Eid al Fitr translates as the festival of the breaking of the fast and the Eid feast is the perfect way to end the month of fasting, it is also a reminder of all the things that we have to be grateful for.
Ahead of the festivities taking place, many rituals are followed such as dawn prayers and preparations including wearing the finest clothing and visiting the Mosque. The traditional Eid greeting is “Eid Mubarak”, which translates to “blessed festival/feasts”; however, this can also bear similarity to “happy Eid” or “blessed celebration”. After greetings have been shared, a charity donation can be made and Eid prayers can commence. Another tradition includes the exchanging of gifts amongst close family members and children where sweet snacks are made available.
Each Eid celebration last for three days, and each corresponds to a different celebration occasion in the Islamic faith, with their own significance.
In 2023, Eid ul-Fitr is likely to take place on 21st April 2023 or 22nd April 2023, depending on the sighting of the moon as this determines the end of the month-long period of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid.
Accommodating Religious Observance in the Workplace
Where reasonable and practical, employers should accommodate religious observance in the workplace, whatever the colleague’s faith background. Treat requests for time off fairly, consistently, and sympathetically, and take reasonable steps to accommodate where possible. This may be through supporting the use of holiday, or unpaid leave, or allowing a temporary change to hours, for example to support colleagues who are fasting. Whilst there is no statutory right to time off for religious reasons, it’s essential to adopt an inclusive culture, and this will in turn avoid potential claims of discrimination if colleagues feel they’re not being treated consistently.
Wishing a Ramadan Mubarak to all of our Muslim colleagues.
Recent Case Law
Dyslexia and Discrimination – Bryce v Sentry Consulting Limited
A recent tribunal decision is a reminder to employers that they should pay close attention to any assertion that the conduct may relate to a disability, and that they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities.
During a recent tribunal, the claimant accepted they were late to work on three occasions, the first and second occasion by 5 minutes, and the third by 15 minutes. The claimant blamed their lateness on a “combination of things” and that it was “partly disability and partly circumstances”. They confirmed this was during the Covid pandemic and the time of year meant it was “cold, frosty and snowy” and that they need to get up at the “crack of dawn” and travel somewhere new that they were not used to travelling to.
The claimant confirmed they suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome and dyslexia which impacts on their ability to process information quickly and it affects how they communicate. The tribunal looked at consequence of the claimant’s disability on their timekeeping, attention span, memory issues, learning difficulty, their communication disorder, and if they received unfavourable treatment because of any of these things. The tribunal also considered if the respondent knew or could have reasonably been expected to know that the claimant had a disability, if they had Provision Criterion or Practice (PCP) relating to indirect discrimination i.e., were they at a substantial disadvantage compared to someone without the claimant’s disability. The claimant believed this to be true and stated their disability had an impact on their timekeeping as they were not able to arrive on time always and the long shifts and frequency of them overwhelmed them.
The tribunal found a reasonable adjustment to avoid the disadvantage could have been made where the respondent could have adjusted the shift patterns allowing the claimant 20-30 minutes ‘leeway’ to start work. The Claimant stated on one of the occasions they were late, they recalled there was snow and ice and as they were going to a new place of work, they did not foresee the risks which may have made them late, their cognitive ability to plan and prepare impacted on their ability to get to work on time and repetition i.e. going to the same place of work a few times, helped them plan for the journey and be less anxious. The claimant stated it was a long journey from their home to the place of work and getting up early was difficult because of their disability.
The Tribunal accepted evidence that during a meeting about the claimant’s lateness and other performance issues, they informed the respondent that they had Asperger’s Syndrome and dyslexia and the respondent had not been previously aware of this. During this meeting the claimant told the respondent that they wanted some ‘leeway’ to be 15-20 minutes late for shifts but were open to their suggestions.
The claimant was offered 6 further shifts, which would have resulted in them working more than 48 hours, they turned down the shifts on the basis that they would be over stretched and because of their disability, reasonable adjustments would be required. The respondent did not offer the claimant any further shifts and so the claimant issued a claim for disability discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments, together with claims for less favourable treatment as a part-time work and direct disability discrimination.
The tribunal dismissed the claim for less favourable treatment as a part-time work and direct disability discrimination but found the claimants dyslexia did amount to a disability for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010 and that amounted to a “physical or mental impairment that had a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily actives”. As such the claims for discrimination arising from a disability and failure to make reasonable adjustments were successful. The requirement to arrive on site by a specific time put the claimant at a disadvantage compared to employees who did not suffer from dyslexia and the tribunal found the claimants inability to arrive on time was likely to be the reason for the failure for them to be offered more shifts.
Some important dates for your diary
- 20th April 2023 – Last Day of Ramadan
- 21st April 2023- Eid ul-Fitr
- 22nd April 2023 – International Mother Earth Day
- 23rd April 2023 – World Book Day
- 23rd April 2023 – Saint George’s Day
Note: The above guidance was correct at the time of writing this article on 14/04/23. This does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this newsletter or would like more information to support your business with the changes, please get in touch.